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February 16 to April 28 | Pleasant T. Rowland Galleries
During the Great Depression, president Franklin Delano Roosevelt promised a “new deal for the American people,” initiating government programs to foster economic recovery. Realizing that Americans needed not only employment but also the inspiration art could provide, the administration created the Public Works of Art Project, the first federal program to support the arts. Although short-lived, the PWAP employed thousands of artists to paint regional, recognizable subjects—from portraits to cityscapes and street scenes to landscapes and rural life. These artworks were displayed in schools, libraries, post offices, museums, and government buildings, vividly capturing the realities and ideals of the era. 1934: A New Deal for Artists celebrates the 75th anniversary of the PWAP, presenting 56 vibrant paintings from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s unparalleled collection.
Thursday, February 21: Lecture and Reception
Docent tours: Thursdays in March and April, 4 p.m. Docents lead 40-minute drop-in tours of 1934: A New Deal for Artists. Rowland Galleries.
Selected Thursdays at 7 p.m.: New Deal Cinema
March 21, 7 p.m. Bridge Poetry Series: Invited Wisconsin poets will read original poems inspired by the exhibition. This is a semiannual reading of poetry written in response to art.
April 18, 4:30 p.m.: Panel Discussion
“Wisconsin Seen: Homegrown Interpretations from the Federal Arts Projects and Social Policy” Panelists will address how the federal arts projects and social policy affected Wisconsin in the 1930s and after. Auditorium
Lauren Kroiz, assistant professor of art history, UW–Madison, on John Steuart Curry and the Wisconsin Rural Art Program; Thomas Lidtke, director emeritus, Museum of Wisconsin Art, on New Deal Art and the Milwaukee Paradigm; and Arnold Alanen, emeritus professor of landscape architecture, UW–Madison, on the New Deal Community of Greendale, Wisconsin.
Additional information and resources about the exhibition are available at the Smithsonian American Art Museum Web page: americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/archive/2009/1934/#/tour.
1934: A New Deal for Artists is organized and circulated by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with support from the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment Fund and the Smithsonian Council for American Art. The C.F. Foundation in Atlanta supports the museum’s traveling exhibition program, Treasures to Go.
IMAGES: Above: Lily Furedi, Subway, 1934, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum. Transfer from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service
Image on homepage slide: Harry Gottlieb, Filling the Ice House, 1934, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum. Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor
Exhibitions page thumbnail: Paul Kelpe, Machinery (Abstract #2), 1933–1934, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum. Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor